Namibia Gender Diversity

By | June 4, 2021

Position of woman

When it comes to the position of women, a distinction must be made between women with a good education and training, who are mainly concentrated in the urban population, and less educated women in the countryside and in the squatter settlements on the outskirts of the cities. The educated Namibian woman is very present in public and in politics and knows how to prevail against male competition in business and society. This is also proven by numerous statistical data and studies.

In the government, the ministries, the state-owned companies (‘Parastatals’), but also in the private sector, women are represented in large numbers and can certainly get into high and high positions. Numerous top positions in the ministries (from undersecretary to permanent secretary positions to deputy ministers and ministers) are held by women.

In 2014, SWAPO also decided to use the so-called ‘zebra system’ for its candidate list, i.e. to fill the list positions with male and female candidates alternately. In addition, it is planned to always fill the vice-ministerial post in the government with a woman if the minister is a man (and vice versa). Namibia can therefore claim to be far more progressive than most of the rest of the world, at least in the political field with the emancipation of women.

The fact that, on average, they do significantly better at schools and universities than their male peers certainly contributes to the quite pronounced self-confidence of the educated Namibian women. At the Namibia University of Science and Technology, for example, around 70-80% of all awards are regularly given to female students. These significantly better achievements and grades of the graduates do their part to ensure that they have an advantage when looking for a job after graduation. In any case, one cannot speak of a structural disadvantage or discrimination against (educated) women in Namibia.

According to thesciencetutor, the situation is different with less educated women, especially in the countryside and in the squatter settlements. Psychological, but also physical violence against women, including rape, is frequent in Namibia, and corresponding cases are regularly reported in the press. Such incidents are often related to alcohol and / or drug abuse.

Gender diversity / LGBTQI * / homosexuality

As in many other African countries, the topic of gender diversity / LGBT / homosexuality is still largely taboo in Namibia. Everyone knows that there are of course same-sex partnerships, transgender people, etc. in Namibia too, but the topic is largely hushed up in public – in contrast to HIV / AIDS, for example. Even Namibia’s extremely free and independent press hardly addresses these issues.

Officially, as in many African countries, sex between men is still illegal. Sex between women, however, does not. The corresponding Roman-Dutch Common Law Act was adopted by Namibia from the apartheid period and has not been abolished or changed since independence. In practice, however, the law has not been and is not applied. As in other areas, for example in the practice of religion, there is a widespread tolerant attitude in Namibia, which allows everyone to live as one wants, at least in their private sphere.

However, this does not mean that LGBT people are fully accepted in Namibian society. On the contrary, there are numerous statements by older politicians in particular, such as former President Sam Nujoma or Jerry Ekandjogoing in a completely different direction. There are still no special laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on certain sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite these restrictions and problems that still exist, Namibia is relatively tolerant compared to other African countries such as Senegal, Guinea, Uganda, Burkina Faso or Niger. According to a survey by the Afrobarometer Network, Namibia is perceived as the fourth most tolerant country in Africa when it comes to homosexuality after Cape Verde, South Africa and Mozambique.

With Out-Rights Namibia there has been an official interest group for the LGBT community since 2010 and in 2013 there was the first ‘Pride March’ in Windhoek (albeit with only a few participants). In 2016 Swakopmund followed suit with its own ‘Pride Parade’. Both events have been held annually since then, largely undisturbed.

Overall, however, when assessing the situation of the LGBT community in Namibia, one should not forget that – as in most other areas – there are considerable differences between the regions and especially between urban and rural areas. Much of what is accepted without problems in Windhoek or Swakopmund, for example, would certainly not be possible in the same way as in other countries in the villages and small towns in the countryside.

Namibia Gender Diversity